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It's highly unlikely that Maxine Kiss would ever fall for a sparkly vampire.

Maxine is the latest scion of a millennia-old family of demon hunters who are always female. She is also a living embodiment of the trope "Good Is Not Nice." Aided by a quintet of specialized demons who have assisted the Hunters throughout their history, Maxine ruthlessly annihilates evil wherever she finds it, and then she and her Boys go looking for more. Their usual prey are zombies, which in this scenario are humans possessed by relatively weak demons, but greater demons are in just as much danger whenever Maxine detects them.

This is not to say that Maxine is cold-hearted. In fact, she is fiercely loving. But her vulnerabilities are those of many badass male characters: her friends, her loved ones, her sense of honor. It makes me ferociously happy that her femininity is not used as a weakness.

During the course of these three volumes, Maxine discovers that she might, in fact, be not only the latest of the Hunters, but the last. She uncovers secrets about her family and her ancestry, learns about some of the other major players in the fate of the world (and finds that some of them are much closer to her than she would ever have guessed), and kicks a lot of ass. This is an Earth in which demonic chaos is constantly lurking behind the scenes, but most people are going about their ordinary lives with no knowledge of it. There are lots of pop culture references and in-jokes, and sometimes I think that Liu is working some of her shticks a little too hard, but generally the storyline races along with vivid language and terrific momentum.

I've seen these billed as paranormal romance, but although there is a small amount of romance during the course of the series, these are probably better classified as urban fantasy. There's considerable violence, too.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 28th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
I can't tell from this how much Maxine has in common with Sanzo, but he's certainly a poster boy for the "Good is Not Nice" trope.
Nov. 28th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)

Yes, he is. Have you seen TVTropes' page on Saiyuki? It's both good and entertaining.

Well, she's got the Parental Figure Killed in Front of Him/Her thing, the "carrying the fate of the universe on his/her shoulders" thing, the motley crew of allies, the fairly honorable opponents who aren't the real villains, the possibility of a previous existence ... but by well into the first book, it's more like Fanfic Sanzo Who is Getting Some. Of course, this ups the stakes when something threatens her Goku equivalent (who does have some odd points in common with Goku but is different enough to make me chuckle-snort at the idea that they could be at all equivalent ... ).

Nov. 28th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
I've wasted spent time reading TVTropes' page on Saiyuki.

Although it seems like that's most of what I read as a kid -- maybe because the children's books I liked best fell into that category -- I don't read much in the way of fantasy anymore, but I'll have to keep this series in mind. Seeing as my top three Saiyuki pairings all include him, I'd have to say a Sanzo Who Is Getting Some is a Saiyuki fanfic favorite.
Nov. 28th, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
The line between UF (at least of the "ass-kicking chicks with supernatural boyfriends") like Lilith Saintcrow and Kim Harrison, and paranormal romance like Liu's "Dirk & Steele" series, seems awfully blurry at some points; the biggest difference may be that the paranormals aren't as likely to have a series focused on the same character/pairing because the romance market largely expects there to be a new, developing relationship at the heart of the book, and a happy ending for the new couple? "Dirk & Steele", for instance, has a different central couple as the focus of each new book, although Liu frequently brings in characters from previous volumes as supporting players. In UF series the heroines often seem to have rather complicated love lives and the romances don't always end happily ever after.

(And if I hadn't already long since traded the book away, I'd have to lend you this purely for the sake of the Liu story; the Harrison piece was good although probably mainly of interest to folks who already know the series its characters are from, the other two were meh, but Liu's story was a manga-ish piece of delightful crack. She's a tough, stoic, immensely badass nameless orphan painstakingly trained from early childhood by the Chinese government to be the ultimate special ops soldier and secret agent! He's the psychically gifted necromancer grandson of a Mongolian shaman's daughter and a Russian defector from a secret government project researching paranormal weaponry. Together, they fight crime international terrorist organizations working in league with jiangshi!)

Edited at 2010-11-28 04:57 am (UTC)
Nov. 29th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
I think this series and the Kate Daniels one are fairly similar, both the loner ladies eventually get a love life and an adoptive family, but Hunter Kiss had the boys all the time. Both have dead family in the background, both have danger in the family background, too.
Both ladies show that good doesn't have to mean nice.

I would like more page count for the Hunter Kiss and less of a headlong race ahead, I think Kate's novels are better paced. I agree with calling them more of an urban fantasy.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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